ECONOMY

Vodafone-Panafon keeps up strong performance in H1

Mobile operator Vodafone-Panafon yesterday reported hefty rises in revenue and net profit for the half year ending September 30, on the back of a widened subscriber base and increased use of the network, which offset decreases in tariffs. The company said in a statement that its revenues rose 17.5 percent to 726.1 million euros year-on-year. Net profit was up 25.7 percent to 111.8 million. Average minutes of use (blended AMOU) per subscriber rose 11.3 percent to 108 from 97 in the same period of 2002. Average use by contract subscribers was up 22.3 percent to 274 minutes. The average revenue per user (blended ARPU) was down 1.8 percent to 30.98 euros, due to significant decreases in tariffs and a rise in the percentage of prepaying clients. But ARPU was up from 29.84 euros in the April-June period (first quarter) to 31.66 euros in the second quarter. ARPU per contract subscriber rose 1.3 percent to 63.53 minutes but was down 9.2 percent to 17.70 euros per prepaying customer. Vodafone-Panafon reports annual results from March to March, under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Total revenue from mobile telephony services rose 15.9 percent, representing 90.3 percent of turnover. Revenue from data transmission services (including SMS and WAP) rose 22.2 percent (representing 12.9 percent of mobile services revenue) on the back of the success of the new products, Vodafone live! and Vodafone Office. Vodafone live! drew 107,000 active subscribers, or 3 percent of the total subscriber base, less than nine months after its launch, the company said. Revenue from fixed charges advanced 41.1 percent to 86.3 million euros. Expenses rose to 366.4 million euros, bringing the gross profit margin down to 49.5 percent from 53.5 percent, mainly due to the lower margin of higher phone sales to new contract subscribers. The total cost of attracting and maintaining subscribers rose to 9.3 percent of the total, from 8 percent in March 2003. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 13.3 percent to 277.4 million euros, but EBITDA margin was down 1.4 percent to 38.2. The company augmented its total subscriber base by 21.5 percent to 3,782,737, year-on-year, with prepaying customers at 2,685,330, or 71 percent of the total. New subscribers surged 171.2 percent to 399,972, and contract customers 120.8 percent to 118,656 in the second quarter. Contract customer churn was down to 11.7 percent, but the number of prepaying customers remained stable; the respective rates of active customers in the two categories were 95 and 71 percent. The company’s main rival and market leader, CosmOTE, last week reported a 20 percent rise in the number of customers in the third quarter to 4.05 million. «Despite strong competition, we believe we will maintain and further strengthen our position in the Greek market,» said Vodafone-Panafon’s MD Giorgos Koronias. Vodafone Albania, 49-percent owned by Vodafone-Panafon and 51 percent by Vodafone UK, posted EBITDA of 19.03 million euros on revenues of 47.86 million; pretax profit was 8.18 million euros. The company estimated its market share at 44.6 percent.